Unpacking the Paris Agreement Prospects


The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21/CMP11) held from 30 November 30th to 12 December 2015 in Paris, France marked one of the global successes in the climate change talks. The Conference was crucial as it needed to adopt a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C or well below 1.5°C.  All the 196 Parties to the Convention applauded the announcement of the adoption of a historic Paris Agreement. The Agreement is a legally-binding, universal, durable and balanced agreement that will become operational from the year 2020.

Main features of the Paris Agreement:
•    Strives to contribute towards achieving the objective of the UNFCCC, which is stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change;

•    Brings together all parties to the Agreement to address climate change, based on their historic, current and future responsibilities regarding stabilization of greenhouse gases;

•    Will promote food security, poverty reduction, economic development, climate resilience;

•    Is guided by, and takes into account, the principles of equity and common, but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances;

•    Provides for differentiation between developed and developing countries in how they undertake obligations, commitments and actions on every subject, including mitigation, adaptation, intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), and the provision of finance, technology and capacity building as the means of implementation; and

•    Respects and promotes the common concern of humankind on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities, and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity among other key elements.

Stakeholders, including climate change experts and Legal Experts analysed and reviewed the content of the Paris Agreement, considered any implications that may arise, both positive and negative, looking at the implications on the key sectors of the economy, existing enabling mechanisms, the risk for effective implementation, and implementation modalities to enable the domestication of the key relevant articles of the Agreement. The experts viewed the agreement as comprehensive and balanced, hence they recommended that Zimbabwe signs and ratifies the Paris Agreement and continues to participate in the Climate Change Talks to ensure that the rulebook and other operational modalities do not pose any negative implications that may arise in the future. The benefits accruing from signing and ratifying the Paris agreement far outweigh the potential negatives.
Effective implementation of the Paris Agreement will lead to accelerated sustainable economic growth and development, provision of food security, poverty reduction, and increased climate resilience. Reduction of greenhouse gases emissions into the atmosphere from the major sources of emissions, including agriculture, forestry, land use, energy, transport, industrial processes and waste. This will result in limitation of global surface temperature rise. All countries in the world have been encouraged to update their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for both mitigation and adaptation by the year 2018.
As Zimbabwe moves towards COP22, there are a number of questions that the negotiators need to consider, especially with regards to the implementation of the INDCs, global stocktake, transparency framework and the Registry. Some of the questions include:
 > Should the features and information on Nationally Determined Contributions be tailored to the type of NDCs or should they be tailored on some other basis? If so what?  What lessons can be drawn in this respect from the INDCs already submitted?

> Can the existing guidance on accounting under the Convention be taken into account, and if so how? How detailed or general should the guidance be and what should it address?

> What are adaptation communications seeking to achieve, especially in light of linkages with other issues, for e.g. with the global stocktake? What does that mean for the scope of the guidance needed?
How can a balance be achieved between the need for guidance for adaptation communications with the need for flexibility?

> What are some of the experiences and lessons learnt from existing MRV arrangements, and how could they provide a basis for an enhanced transparency framework on action and support?

> What constitutes flexibility for developing countries and how could it be applied through modalities, procedures and guidelines in a way that supports full and effective participation in the transparency framework?

> How will the global stocktake be conducted, keeping in mind the need for simplicity and relevance, ownership and inclusiveness?

> What key features of a mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance would be appropriate in light of the provisions of the Paris Agreement?


On the other hand, Zimbabwe is currently coordinating the Gender and Climate Change Agenda Item under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation; hence, as the Parties review the two Year Lima Work Programme on Gender and Climate Change, it is important to identify the key elements and principles for the advancement of the Lima Work Programme. The social consequences of climate change are not gender neutral due to social inequalities and climate change compounded with the current economic growth trajectories deepen and widen the gender inequalities. Women a unique role in the management of natural resources and with their knowledge, they can shape adaptive strategies and become effective agents of change in addressing the climate change challenges. Hence, the negotiations should look at supporting gender responsive climate policy planning and implementation at all levels of the society.

Zimbabwe should not remain behind in accessing global climate finance to assist the country to move towards low carbon and climate resilient development. The need to follow negotiations on climate finance will also form the centre stage for the Zimbabwe negotiators so as to continue tracking available financing for adaptation and mitigation and contribute to required fiduciary processes and possible quality projects that qualify for support.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate was established in 2013. The Ministry is responsible for the development, implementation and monitoring of policies on environment, biodiversity, water, climate and seismic issues and legislation for sustainable development. The Ministry also coordinates and mainstream ratified environmental multilateral and regional protocols, agreements and standards into our national laws and ensure the proper management of all parastatals and state agencies under the Ministry.


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